16 Jan

Women in Scottish Agriculture

Smallholding Scotland Trustee Keesje Avis attended the “Women in Agriculture” event held at the Scottish Parliament on 10 January 2018. This event highlighted the work by the Task force set up last year co-chaired by Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity and Joyce Campbell, a crofter in North Sutherland.

A key resource to inform future policy and the work of the task force is the findings in the “Women in Farming and Agriculture Research Report” available here. Commissioned by Scottish Government in 2016 this research combined one-on-one interviews and a questionnaire that was completed by 1300 members of the Scottish agricultural community. The response far exceeded the 300 people hoped for indicating the subject’s importance, as well as providing a considerable remit for any policy changes.

One of the recommendations highlighted at the event is that agricultural organisations should have a minimum of a third of board members/trustees as women and Smallholding Scotland is happy to reflect this in their trustee membership. We hope to ensure this going forward. Further issues include inheritance and succession planning, available training, access to land for new entrants and the need for increased on farm safety. This is only a snippet of the research and findings so please have a read of the report and come back to us if you have any comments or suggestions of how Smallholding Scotland can respond to this very important issue and support an egalitarian rural Scotland.

31 Aug

Scottish farmers to benefit from £1.5 million The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme for second year

Small farm businesses across Scotland are being invited to take part in the second year of the highly successful The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, run by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.
Proven to help small farms improve their way of working, the programme will provide free business support, skills and planning tuition, and one-to-one guidance to 20 small livestock and mixed family farm businesses.
The programme will be running at two locations in Scotland – one on the Isle of Arran, and another in Dumfries. Applications open on the 1st of September, and close on the 31st of October.
Feedback from participating farms has been unanimously positive, with farmers who have completed the programme feeling far more confident about the future of their farm business.
William, a farmer from Lanarkshire who took part in the first year of the programme said: “I’d recommend the programme to families who are looking to solve the challenges they face on their farm. If you’re wanting to create change within your business, the programme is really useful – it’s good to take a step back occasionally and look at what you’re doing.”
The programme aims to tackle some of the biggest challenges being faced by small farm businesses across the UK. Developed off the back of The Prince’s Dairy Initiative, which has helped strengthen the UK dairy supply chain since 2012, the £1.5million programme will support up to 300 farm businesses this year.
Farmers will be given the skills to evaluate their viability and make informed decisions about the future by using the Business Health Check Tool. The programme also brings together like minded family farm enterprises in local networks so they can review their current activity, and identify opportunities and improvements that can be made on-farm to build resilience.
Claire Saunders, director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We are thrilled to be bringing The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme to more locations this year, building on the excellent response to its first year.
“The skills training and expert advice provided by the programme help farmers to cope with the many challenges that their businesses face, and allow them to plan for the future more confidently.”
Research commissioned by the Fund and carried out by the University of Exeter into the future of the small family farm in the UK revealed a steep decline in numbers since the beginning of the century, and declining farmgate prices has led to the average farm income falling below £20,000 for the first time since 2007. With uncertainty caused by Brexit adding extra pressure to farmers, the Programme is more important now than ever.
If you are interested in taking part in The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, or would like to find out more, please visit www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/farmresilience or contact:

Isle of Arran: Ailsa Currie, on 07740 986803 or bellevuefarmcottages@btinternet.com

Dumfries: Heather Wildman at Saviour Associates on 07773 519995 or info@saviourassoc.co.uk


31 Aug

ScotGov Consultation on Crofting Law 2017

The Scottish Government is committed to reviewing the modernisation of crofting law in this parliamentary session. A consultation is underway and runs to 20th November. The Trustees of Smallholding Scotland are minded to submit a response to the consultation and will be consulting its members, with a view to informing this response. Of course, individuals should also consider making their own response.
20 Jul

“Two Crops from One Acre” Shropshire Sheep and trees

The Shropshire Sheep Breeders Association (SSBA) has created a new edition of its booklet “Two Crops from One Acre”.

Shropshire sheep have become well-known as “tree-friendly” and are used by many commercial tree growers to control herbage between trees. The breed society has gathered information on how to best manage a variety of scenarios, some from overseas, including France and Australia.

Copies of the 48 page booklet are available from SSBA fro £1.50 (plus P&P) and can be ordered via shropshire_sheep@hotmail.com or the booklet can be downloaded from the breed society’s website.

03 Jul

Small Farm Grant Scheme

Smallholding Scotland is concerned about the low uptake of the Small Farm Grant Scheme. These concerns have been raised formally with Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity and Mr Ewing has asked his civil servants to review the scheme.

On Wednesday 28th June, Rosemary Champion, co-Chair of Smallholding Scotland, met with Adam Briggs, Senior Policy Officer in the Crofting Bill Team to outline concerns about the structure of the scheme, including the 3ha minimum land area and the income bar for eligibility.

It is likely that the review will be considered by the Minister after the Scottish Parliament’s summer recess.

Smallholding Scotland would welcome comments from smallholders on the scheme, particularly if you have made an application, regardless of whether you were successful or not.

01 Jul

Scotland’s Food: farming for the future

Andy Phillips represented Smallholding Scotland at an event held at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 27th June.

“Scotland’s Food: farming for the future”, hosted by Soil Association Scotland and sponsored by Peter Chapman MSP, forms part of the Scottish Food Coalition’s national good food conversation. The aim of the event was to provide MSPs with the opportunity to hear from farmers and food producers on how the upcoming Good Food Nation Bill has the potential to secure a thriving economy, a greener environment and healthier people now and in the future.

30 Jun

Joining SCVO

Smallholding Scotland has applied to join the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) so that the management committee has access to the best information and advice on managing a voluntary organisation.

30 Jun

Smallholding Scotland becomes a SCIO

The management committee of Smallholding Scotland received confirmation today that the organisation has been granted status of Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).

This is great news as it not only recognises the charitable purposes of the Smallholding Scotland, but will allow access to additional funding streams.

The organisation remains a membership organisation and you can apply for membership NOW by clicking on the Join Us button on the website. Only by securing a healthy membership, can Smallholding Scotland represent the views of smallholders in Scotland.